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Category: Queer lit

Fanfiction and Coming out

Story time! I’m trans and I’ve been out since 2015. I used to write a lot. Like a lot a lot. I wrote a lot of fanfic and a lot of co op writing/RP with some fantastic friends.I wrote some many words in those days. The joys of college and few responsibilities.

Many of those words were very, very bad. I wrote in highschool and middle school on paper but never to the degree of engagement once I had access to the internet.

I also day dreamed all the fucking time. To this day I am so glad I did not have access to the internet at fourteen because the world does not need my self insert sailor Moon or Fear Street fanfic, let alone the crossovers.
I was a dorky kid with a very active imagination and not many friends that treated me well. I was also so far in the closet that I used day dreaming and writing to express those wishes in a way that could somehow excise them.
I dreamt about being a man and occupying male spaces. I dreamt of being kidnapped and coming home in a new body and oops everyone would have to accept me because of course they would. I was terrified to write those dreams down. I didn’t want anyone to know of those personal, very private thoughts where they might ridicule them.

Every time someone said I sounded masculine, or did something that was considered masculine, a part of me thrilled and wished to my very core that all of me could be perceived as such.

I didn’t have the language then to understand that I was trans and experienced a massive amount of dysphoria. It was the nineties and in a town that had a very small lgbt population, and didn’t have a pride parade until the early 2000s.

So I dreamt, and I sometimes wrote. But I never wrote consistently, and I spent my twenties lost. I became very anxious and scared to make even the smallest of decisions.
I did write.

But I wrote in safe places, online forums, co-op settings that would give me the ability to write but I never had to finish anything so if I dropped something the only people I was disappointing were faceless, and if I disappointed them fast enough they would learn not to expect much from me. I was so afraid of success I prepackaged failure to keep from being found out.

I felt like I was keeping a terrible, horrible, secret. That if anyone found out that would be the end of me and all I cared about. I stayed home and went to college locally instead of going for what I wanted.
Staying still felt safer. I developed anxiety and depression-like symptoms as a result. I say depression-like because despite diagnosis of those in high school it was episodic and the result of a exigent circumstances.

But still I wrote.

Haphazard, and unfinished, I wrote lots and lots of bad words. I expended a lot of energy learning how to write by writing with friends and then writing the occasional piece of fanfic. I never wrote more than a one shot, generally nothing above 5k, and at most one 10k piece.

But I packaged in the idea of them being standalone, never to be picked up again, because anything beyond a chapter one felt like too much of a commitment, too much chance to be found out and discovered for what I was hiding.

Much of this writing was done between 2004 and 2009 and if anyone remembers their fandom history, this bridges the gap of several large events in fandom history that made it even harder to feel safe in fandom spaces. You had FF.net shutting down all mature material, you had the terror and paranoia on Adultfanfiction.net and their attempts to close everything possible so they could say they took the time to keep the children safe. Blogs were being targetted, Xanga a blog system no one remembers was one of the first to introduce a ratings system for blogs themselves, a system that ignored their tagging system entirely and was another kneejerk response to the general hue and cry of supposed watchdog groups.

Then came Strikethrough, where suddenly blog after blog disappeared overnight and fandom went into a spiral of archive saving before shit really went down. This situation did not help my already terrified sensibilities. I joined a writers group that appeared to be open to all fiction but due to a character name mix up, — as in a wrote two different pieces which happened to feature two characters with the same name. I ended up banned from the group because again middle of the hysteria of strikethrough and a wave of censorship that crops up with the writing every few years from one group or another.

See 04-09 was one of the last real digs where conserative media groups and mainstream groups to get rid of fanfiction and the growing queer communities on the internet. It’s not a surprise that I was writing some stuff that was pushing boundaries and this was the group where I discovered I was trans and found myself banned shortly after. One 1500 erotica short is not an automatic ban in most writing forums, especially an adults only forum.

A few friends from that forum and myself created another writers group, but now I was worried and I didn’t want to fail and I really didn’t want to kind of succeed only to have it removed because of some arbitrary decision based on someone else’s views of me as a human. So I did a bit with that group but the second I needed to actually shit or get off the pot with my writing I drifted away and found other things to do that would be less risky.

In the meantime I didn’t complete college, was in a dead end job that at first offered some modicum of autonomy and then destroyed even that. I was stressed, couldn’t function, and had to leave work and was left without any idea of what to do with myself. I had a plan to go back to school and had to wait an entire year in order to get get that started.

That was when the trouble really started with writing. I was picking at it, but this was a year after realizing I was trans but no where near able to accept it as part of my identity — thank you massively transphobic society and media for making me question my fundamental core, go fuck yourself.

I finished school in between my father having a heart attack, losing two of my uncles to cancer and kind of coming out to two friends but wanting nothing to change because hot damn I was fucking terrified and there was already enough stress in my families life I couldn’t risk the thought of them unable to accept me.

So I put it behind me, I put everything into becoming an LPN, met some old friends and started dating someone. At that point I put it so far behind me I stopped identifying as trans. I redoubled every feminine thing I could, I bought pretty clothes and really tried to find the inner girl everyone wanted.

But I still wrote.

Half assed barely cogent, always ready to run at the least opportunity.

And then the person I was dating finally admitted it wasn’t working and he did what I couldn’t do and break up. This was the first time I couldn’t write. The dry spell on my creativity lasted between 2011 and 2013. I was financially stressed because of former student loans and shift work and casual don’t allow for a stress free existence.

It wasn’t until 2015 that I could write again.

This was the result of three major changes that happened in 2014. I became finacially stable in that my job became permanent. Between 2013 and 2014 I started birth control to try and take care of my pcos — a failed endeavour of epic proportions and I was maid of honour for my cousin’s wedding.

The permanancy of my job finally gave me enough stability to pay attention to my health and my floundering sense of self worth and increasingly awful dysphoria.

At this time in my life I’d push myself so far back into a closet, I no longer felt I had the right to call myself trans. Yes, let me say that again, socialized shame, lack of represenation, and fear violent retaliation kept me locked away. 

So 2015 opened with a lot of agony, and me feeling absolutely awful without really understanding the why of it. In the meantime I fell head first into The Hobbit fanfiction, and felt an overwhelming need to fix the last movie. I read a bucket of fanfic and watched the movies until I could see them in my sleep.

Then I started writing. 

And writing a lot. 

I joined the Hobbit Big Bang, a competetion to write at least 25,000 in a specific time frame, usually three months. I proceeded to write 150k between January and May of that year. 96k was published over the course of a month and half. 

Those first words, that fic, was an exploration of all of my fears. I wanted to write something about gender. I was fascinated by the idea that gender meant something different to the dwarves and what that would mean for the culture and their society. 

I also wanted to look at the effects of that on the hobbits and how they would respond to gender outside of the apparently strict gender roles. Bilbo became my exploration, a way for me to figure out what my fears were regarding coming out and whether I could continue to hide. 

I met my best friend and fellow writer at this time and she was the first person I came out to and felt confident in that acknowledgment of who I was. Her support was the bedrock I needed to come out to others. I had somehow faced all of my fears in writing about all the potential ways coming out would go wrong, about all of the things I felt and how much I was hurting and unable to acknowledge it or in some places even be aware of it. 

I started my transition as much because of writing this fic as because of the support I received at a crucial point when I was rediscovering who I am. 

It’s been three and half years since I came out, two years since I started testosterone and now I’m getting ready for surgery in the coming year. 

But even more so, the comments I’ve received since posting my fanfic, the support for my writing, the sheer number of people thanking me for creating a space where they feel represented within fandom and their media has been astonishing. I’ve had so so many people thank me for giving them a Bilbo who felt the way they did, who feared coming out, but knew they had to face it because choosing anything else wasn’t an option. 

I will never be shamed or feel embarrassed for creating fanfiction. I will never be shoved aside because I choose to create something that is wonderful and open and free for people to enjoy. I will no longer quiet my voice when I know it can do so much. 

I’m going to include a link to the fic I’m talking about, and while the follow up work is not somethin I’m super proud of because of changing fandoms, I will forever be happy with this first one for all it has come to mean for my life and my happiness. 

Interludes of my Still Beating Heart

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Dear Media, I am Tired. That doesn’t mean I’m done fighting.

Dear Mainstream media,

I am tired.

I am so very tired of this conversation.

We seem to have it every year. Every month. Every week. It’s the same conversation. I’m surprised you’re not tired of it as well. I have spent my life looking for representation, for mirrors of my life. Characters, plots, situations, scenes that echo and resonate within my soul. I have asked, yelled, begged, and pleaded with producers and directors, writers, for a scrap.

I get the same tired excuses. The public isn’t ready. Just a little while longer, you’ll see. Hey remember that movie that came out seven years ago or two years ago, that was representation right? I mean it did win an oscar. I’m greedy and unappreciative when I request for a story that doesn’t end in tragedy. When I tell them putting a cis man in a dress isn’t representative of trans women and is actually harmful to trans women I get shut down, ignored, told I’m being too needy.

I have turned my attention to subtext, the underlying message of the text we’re given. I have spent decades being taught how to disassemble and reconstruct the greater meaning in our media and I have used that knowledge to plumb the depths of pop culture to find those like me. Those who can’t come out, or forced to remain in the closet their writers and producers have designed for them. All because the greater public is ‘not ready’.

I’ve been told I’m seeing things, or ‘how could I really know, did one of the directors actually tell you this’. I’ve come face to face with defensive refutations of queer subtext. I’ve met with offensive refutations that threaten violence. How could I possibly want to see “that” on my screen??

I’m a thirty-five year old trans man. I didn’t know I was trans until I was twenty-five and I was so happy to know who I was, and so terrified at once again ‘not being normal’ I hid. I was a mess, and I had nothing to show me that there were more people like me, that I wasn’t alone. My media representation  is thin on the ground, there are less than a handful of mainstream movies, they’re often oscar fodder and the main character is trans and tragic in equal measure. The narrative is clear in these films. To be trans is to be deficient and society will punish you for it. If you think I’m looking too hard at this, understand that this is the message that is being given. Boys Don’t Cry is a true story, the message is clear, society punishes the different. Albert Nobbs, whether the reveal is ever made to the rest of the cast is neither here nor there, the moment the audience is aware that he is trans (and let’s face it, the message in this film is not that trans people exist it’s that women dress like men to get ahead, not because they’re actually men) it’s only a matter of time before either society will step in, or his own tragic humanity will be his end.

Other representations such as the french film TomBoy, are so horrific in their equating of genitals = gender narrative that it’s worse than having no representation. Documentaries and other dramas are there and most of them end in death and sadness and pain. Reading the descriptions of these movies, written by cisgender heteronormative is equally as disturbing as these characters are stripped down to genitals or disguising themselves or somehow hiding the ‘truth’. Summary narratives are even worse than some of the films and misgender so much I’m left twitching.

And I think something that’s a real sticking point in all of this. The characters, unless it’s an indie film with limited release that it’s quickly buried, are played by cisfemale actors.

Yes this is a problem. No, I shouldn’t be ‘happy with what I get.’

Movies are boring me now. I’m tired of seeing cis male power fantasies, cis male revenge fantasies, cis male underdog stories. Your heterosexuality has been pushed down my throat until I have choked upon it and I am still expected to say please, thank you, and may I have some more.

That ends. I’m done. I’m tired of your promise for representation ‘someday’. The public will never be ‘ready’. There is no mythical readiness for when the public can stand my existence. I am here. I am not going anywhere. The public takes it cues from its media and pop culture. The more media shows that I am not a tragedy, not a sin, not somehow evil or wrong, the more it includes me, and includes me properly, the more the public accepts that.

I’m going to defend my right to see queerness in everything. I’m going to continue being aggressively queer, and show how media can be queer, and how it should be queer. I’m going to write my own novels and I’m going to promote representation of who I am, and others. I’m going to create intersectional stories will well-rounded cis women, trans women, trans men, POC and disabilities. I’m going to own up when I fuck this up. Because I am still learning, and I’m still unlearning a horrible system that has misrepresented me and others for more than a century.

Stop asking me to defend what I see. Stop asking me to prove that characters are queer. I’m fucking tired of this argument, but I’m not done fighting, not by a mile.

Sincerely,

Finn

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Flash Fiction — Baking

Not all trolls live under bridges. That’s the way of the past. Some trolls live in subdivisions.

Margaret peered out behind the curtains for the fifth time in as many minutes.

“Keep that up and they’ll know you’re staring,” Crissy said as she sipped a cup of tea. “You’re being nosy.”

“I am not,” Margaret said. “It’s not everyday you see new neighbours, it’s not like this neighbourhood sees much traffic.”

“Did the Brewster’s place finally sell?” Crissy asked obviously indulging her.

Margaret sighed and stepped back from the window and plopped into the seat across from her sister. “It did, three weeks ago, but I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the new family.” She leaned in closer to her sister and lowered her voice. “Rumour has it they’re human.”

Crissy coughed on her tea. “Human? In this neighbourhood? You can’t be serious.”

Margaret hmmed and took up her cup. “I am, I heard it from Martin Hornespeck, he lives next door to Brodie Hammerfist, the realtor. And he said, all Human, all smooth skinned and no horns to speak of. Barely six feet at the tallest.”

“Well that just won’t do,” Crissy said. “I’ve finally gotten my gardenia to blossom properly this year. I’ll not be driven out of another neighbourhood because of bloody humans.”

Margaret waved a green hand. “Don’t you start. They might be nice.”

Crissy snorted. “Sure they even invite you in for tea before they chop your head off and stick it on a pike in their front yard.” She pointed her perfectly manicured finger at Margaret. “They used to do that you know. Professional Troll Hunters. Don’t care if the laws changed to protect us.  That’s just for the pretty folk,  the pixies and the elves.  Humans don’t trust ugly magick folk.”

“Speak for yourself,  I’m bloody gorgeous.”

Crissy shook with laughter.  “Says the ugly sister. What are you bringing to the guild potluck at the end of week. I’m not going upstaged by your blueberry muffins again.”

***

Margaret held the pie in one hand and straightened the hem of her shirt nervously. Damn it all, she was a warrior raised, former High Witch of Grabthar the Honourable,  and here she was, terrified of one human. Get ahold of yourself, she thought. She knocked on the door, four quick jabs against the wood, shaking the door in it’s frame. Damn strength.

A few minutes later the door opened enough to see the chain lock still in place and a small human staring through the opening. It was dark out, the sun had long since set and only the small light above the door shone, mostly obliterated by Margaret’s shadow.

“Hi, just wanted to welcome you to the neighbourhood. I baked you a pie! No, no need to come out please didn’t mean to frighten you. I’ll be on my way.” She said in a rush leaving the pie on the stoop. She did not flee back to her house. She walked purposefully. She wasn’t afraid of a human.

***

Three days later, Margaret opened her front door to find her pie plate, cleaned with a gingerbread cake on top and small card. She took the cake into the house and set it on the counter. The card was miniscule in her hand with a hastily scratched, “Thank you, the pie was delicious. -H”

***

And so it went.

The gingerbread was delicious. Too delicious. She was the best baker on the street, she wasn’t going to let someone tip her from the top spot. She returned H’s cake plate and included her package of her best chocolate chip cookies.

The following day a lemon loaf arrived on her step with a small note. “Is this a baking war ;)? Would be better if I knew your name. -Harriet.”

Margaret cut off a large piece of lemon loaf and took a bite. “Fuck,” She moaned. Not fair, definitely not fair. She grabbed her baking bible off the shelf and flipped through her recipe index. “This means war, Harriet.”

Chocolate espresso cake with a raspberry chocolate ganache.

The next day only a note arrived. “You fight dirty, Peggy. Keep this up and I’ll have to invite you to dinner.”

Margaret cackled. She loved winning.

***

Harriett’s date squares were perfect.

Margaret left a cherry kirsch cake the next day.

Millionaire bars were countered with rice Krispie squares with home made marshmallow.

The war of the fruit cakes lasted for two weeks and Margaret didn’t care a whit that she was the source of the rumours. It was the most fun she’d had in months.  The notes had turned to letters,  long hand written things in dainty envelopes.  She should tell Harriett not to give so much away in a letter to a witch, and Margaret felt a twinge of guilt each time she held back. She didn’t wish to scare her new friend, but the arrival of a deep dish apple pie with butter crust and the accompanying letter now with a spot of blood in the corner forced her hand.

She sent across a small note with a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.

“Full disclosure, I’m a witch and you’ve managed to send me hair and now blood. I’ve burnt them so they can’t be used against you, but be careful. I’d like for you to retain your free will when I get the courage to ask you out. 😉 “

***

No baked good for five days.

Not a crumb.

Not a candy.

Margaret tried to ignore it, but she’d been having fun. Had she said too much in the last note? She tried to concentrate on other things, her loom was languishing in the studio and she had several orders backing up, but each time she sat down she kept thinking about baking goods, or that she heard someone on the stoop.

Alas, nothing.

This was ridiculous.

Another three days passed and she was getting rather tired of her own behaviour. She was so discombobulated even her magic was getting out of hand. Her plants were dying for fucks sake and she was a hedge witch. That never happened.

A timid knock sounded on the door and Margaret startled, breaking her favourite tea-cup with a crackle of magic. “Fucking hells, Peg, get a hold of yourself.”

The knock came again, louder this time, but still… small. Like it was coming from a small fist. Margaret hurried to the door,  adjusted her bright blue hair in the  mirror,  took a deep breath, and opened it cautiously, the sun still enough of a pest to cause issues if she wasn’t careful.

“Hi, Peggy, it’s me, Harriet,” A small dark woman woman said lifting a picnic basket half her size in both hands. “May I come in? I don’t wish to intrude, but you didn’t seem to be getting that courage to ask me out… So I thought I would bring dinner to you.  and I think you’ll  agree I’ve won the baking war.”

Margaret snorted and stepped back from the door. “Pride goeth before the fall, Harry, or so they say. I can’t open the door, not without stone damage, but come in.”

“Oh dear me! I’m so sorry,” Harriet squeaked. She opened the door just wide enough to slip through and shut it quickly behind her. “I didn’t even think.”

Margaret closed the front door and turned to look down at the human in her home. She was tall for a human,  dark hair pinned into a bun,  dark brown skin and a bright blue smile. She carried a picnic basket that she had to have purchased at a troll supply store given its size.

“I’m fine, and you know for next time. I usually have a few more protections on the front door, but they’ve been on the fritz lately. Here, let me take that basket and we can go into the kitchen.”

Harriet handed the basket over. “Thanks,” she said following Margaret.

She set the child size basket on the counter and unpacked a full course meal, dark blue eyebrows raising as she pulled out each new dish.  Steamed root vegetables in garlic butter, four different dishes showcasing a different kind of squash. A fresh salad with walnuts, pecans, and fresh berries. Pastry that smelled of brie and cranberries, and a large box of french macarons in a rainbow of colours.

Margaret stared at the feast and looked to Harriet who blushed from her hairline on down.  Margaret was in so much trouble. Margaret cleared her throat.

“This is lovely.”

“I wasn’t sure if it was true, but I heard that trolls were vegetarian. The macarons are because I’m a sore loser.” She said and Margaret wasn’t sure, didn’t know Harriet well enough yet, but if there wasn’t mischief in Harriet’s eyes, she’d eat her pearls.

“I am, we are, thank you,” she stuttered, “this looks wonderful.” She took two plates down and turned the kettle on. “But if you think I’m giving up just because you claim these are the best, you haven’t met me.”

Harriet grinned and hopped onto the seat across from Margaret. “I love a good competition.”

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